Dubai Will Explore Geothermal Desalinization Feasibility

According to The National, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is requesting proposals for an early-stage feasibility study on producing electricity from geothermal energy and for its use in potential desalination.Dubai skyline shutterstock_222100381 (1)

The other area of focus for the study will be to, for the first time in the country, gauge the potential for tidal, wave and ocean currents as a source for power generation.

This study of renewable energy alternatives marks an ongoing departure from 2010, when 99% of the nation’s electrical generating capacity came from natural gas.

Dubai electrical generating capacity
Graphic via NewEnergyNews

The move fits with Dubai’s aim to produce 75% of electricity from clean sources by 2050, and would be “cost-competitive with other conventional approaches such as reverse osmosis,” Masdar Institute vice president of research, Steve Griffiths, told The National.

Examining desalinization options

As desalinization.biz points out, expanding a desalinization research strategy is logical for the UAE.

“The temperature of geothermal sources in UAE is about 100 degrees celsius, and while that’s too low for power generation, it can be used for desalination. Geothermal sources in UAE can be tapped in the same way as oil and gas.”

Steve Griffiths, the vice president for research at Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Institute, which has been studying the potential for geothermal in the UAE, said that using this kind of energy for desalination was the most viable option, as the GCC’s geothermal resources were only suitable for low-temperature applications, averaging about 100°C.

“It could be viable – the details will need to be worked out, but if there’s a tender for geothermal-based desalination, it’s not insane,” said Griffith, pointing to UAE’s efforts to “decouple power and water systems”.

“So it could be running as a stand-alone water desalination application, which could be cost-competitive with [other conventional approaches] such as reverse osmosis,” he said.

Exploring other renewable energy alternatives

The other area of focus for the study will be to calculate the potential for tidal, wave and ocean currents as a source for power generation.

However,  Griffiths said he had not yet seen anyone propose using the sea as a way to generate electricity at any level of scale. “Based on the known information on renewable energy resources in the GCC, you probably wouldn’t bank on this approach for any significant amounts of electricity,” he said.

According to the European Commission, it is estimated that 0.1 per cent of the energy in ocean waves could be capable of supplying the entire world’s energy needs five times over.

But the fact is the technology just is not there yet. Using the sea to generate electricity has been deployed in only a handful of countries including France – and to date, nothing has been proven commercially viable.

Power generated from the ocean only totals about 500 megawatts globally, whereas solar photovoltaic applications totaling more than 64,000 MW are expected to be added this year alone, according to market analysis by GTM Research.

In any case, interested consultancies will have a chance to explore the options, with proposals to be submitted to DEWA by the end of the month.

Image via Shutterstock

Sources: The National, NewEnergyNews

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